Cupcakes & Conversation with Ruben Martin Cintas, Principal, San Francisco Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
It motivates me to know that each day I’m going to give my best to all of the challenges that might come. Also, thinking about my family who are all so far away, yet still feel like they are so close to me.
Why ballet ?
Because is the best way for me to bring joy and share my knowledge with people.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
I’ve always liked to dance dramatic ballets in general, but having recently experienced the work of Cranko for the first time, I’d love to work through his repertory a little bit more deeply.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
I’ve danced in some of the most amazing venues made for dance in the world, but there are still a few places where I would love to dance, like Russia. Also, I would love to explore all of the greatest stages made for dance in my native country, which I haven’t had much chance to dance on in my career.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
Since we are in performing season right now, I get up early in the morning to start the day with a light workout at home that helps activate the body and wake it up for the day. Then class followed by rehearsals (depending on what ballets we are working on). I take a light nap to recharge and promote some healing into my body, and then I get ready for the show that day… Not much of an outside life at the moment but I find that when you’re focused on a routine, you almost accomplish it on autopilot.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?
After my early morning workout I have a coffee, a shake with fruits and protein, and some nuts. Lunch will be spread out in little splurges: Greek yogurt as well as any great source of protein like nuts, fruits, and various sources of carbs. Finally for dinner I become somewhat of a “normal” person, and have all kinds of variety of cuisine. I love to cook, and can prepare a wide range of dishes, from the simplest steak and potatoes combo, to a Spanish-style paella when preparation can take up to 2 hours!
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I like to take a nap between rehearsals and the show to rest up a little and recharge batteries. An hour and a half beforehand, I’ll start getting in the mind set of performing and begin with the makeup, followed by a little bit of stretching and warm up. I like to leave some time to review choreography and try some steps that might make me a little insecure or need some polishing.
What are you looking forward to dancing in 2012 ?
I’m really looking forward to perform Robbins’ Glass Pieces. Also Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, in which I do the Sanguinic Variation, and I always enjoy Don Quixote!! It brings out the Spanish flavor.
How do you deal with the stresses of performing ?
I see stress as excitement without the breath… So I try to help that by breathing deep. I find some time to meditate and get a bigger perspective on things. Everything must have a solution, right?
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
I would invite people from all sorts of backgrounds to make it a very interesting situation. I would start bringing back Jim Morrison, lead singer from the group The Doors. From the dance world I would definitely invite Rudolf Nureyev. I love painting and would bring the whole generation of impressionism, but since I can only invite one, I would talk to Van Gogh. One of my favorite soccer players would also attend, of course, and that would be Lionel Messi. And I would splurge inviting two actors: Robert de Niro and Al Pacino. That would make the dinner very interesting.
What would surprise people about you ?
Perhaps that I’m an oil painter…
Who inspired you to dance ?
My first inspiration was one of my first teachers: Maria de Avila, who really taught me what perseverance it takes to dance professionally. Several teachers and dancers along the way were very important as well such as my brother Moises, David Wall (ex-ballet master of English National Ballet), and Yat-Sen Chang who I danced next to while I was in ENB.
How would someone else describe you ?
Gentle, generous, kind, eager to learn…
What is your best piece of advice ?
Put passion in anything you do in life. Live the best of everyday like there is no tomorrow. Persevere in what you put your heart into.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
I would say Onegin (which we recently did) in the way that the challenge was not only physical but also the building of a deep character layering.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you ?
When I first joined ENB, we were doing a ballet called Alice in Wonderland in which we had to move huge doors as part of the scenery. My English was not that great at the time, so I didn’t understand that while those doors had to be still on the stage, they had little brakes you needed to activate. Since we were performing on an inclined stage those brakes were set from the beginning… I didn’t know… Every time that door was supposed to go forward it actually was pushed down to the floor by…ME!!! it happened three times until I eventually realized I had to release the brake… What an embarrassment–hahaha!!
A phrase I use far too often is …
Come on! You can do it!
What is your favourite quote?
Just do it!!
What’s on your iPod ?
What predominates my music selection are a list of different Spanish artists including some flamenco albums too. I also have some philosophy and psychology audio books on there (I find it easier to listen than to read because of my schedule). I also have some of the audios of my current college class, which is music. The rest are English-speaking band such as, Broken Bells, MGMT, The Shins…
Who would you most like to dance for, and why?
Living so far away from my native country makes it hard to go back to dance. There are several reasons, lack of connections, different timing… I would really love to go back to Spain and get to dance for my country’s audience and my family!
What makes you a good dance partner ?
I really care about my partner’s concerns and suggestions. I try to accommodate as much as I can to be on the same page and get the most out of the piece we’re involved in together. I try to listen to them and acknowledge whatever it is they might need.
Do you have a secret skill which no one knows about ?
As I mentioned, I’m a painter. I’ve created several works over the last years, and in a couple of occasions, I have shown my work in art galleries in San Francisco! I have a couple of commissions that are going to have to wait until the end of the ballet season.
Describe yourself in just three words.
Caring, grounded and interested.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year ?
In good health and dancing strong!
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it ?
I am involved in a college program for professional dancers that offers a BA in performing arts, and I have become very interested in Physical Therapy. I would like to direct my education towards that path, and be able to help dancers, athletes, and regular individuals increase their awareness of their bodies to minimize injuries and maximize their bodies potential.
Watch Ruben Martin Cintas
Watch Ruben Martin Cintas’ SF Ballet profile spotlight